Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Saved from Yushu

I am told that Yushu once was a magnificent, large busting town filled with Tibetan culture, religion and nomads.  In 2010 they endured a significant earthquake that killed a reported 3,000+ people.  While many buildings were damaged or leveled some were untouched.  The government used this as an opportunity to re-build Yushu according to their master plan.  They evicted all of the Tibetan Nomads and razed the entire city with the intention of turning it into a business center with mid-rise buildings. 

Two years out they tell people that the town has now been re-built. This was anything but the truth.  The center of town is a dusty, muddy mess with 90% of the inhabitants & businesses operating out of blue tents.  We really walked into a bad situation. It was late and we did all we could to get a few hotel rooms.  At the far end of town we ended up in the most disgusting hotel, bar none that I have ever stayed in. The walls were thrown up wall board, 2 wash basins with wet dirty rags to wash with-not, an open latrine for a toilet- nope, and a wet dirty carpet…. But they offered what they thought what was important: a toothbrush kit & a TV.  Needless to say, I slept in my clothes. We couldn’t leave town early enough the next morning. I will spare you any pictures. 

Our next stop was the town of Dzogchen, home to a wonderful monastery and nunnery at about 5,000 meter elevation which is equal to 10,600 feet.  It is located in a valley surrounded  by snow capped mountains, clean air and magnificent vistas.

I proposed that we ask to stay over night there as a place to heal of psyche.  The nunnery welcomes guests and so for a small donation we were put up in a simple, clean and  peaceful place.  This was precisely what we all needed after Yushu.  We were served a very basic dinner of rice porridge, soup and yak yogurt for dinner followed by tsampa (barley, yak butter and sugar) for breakfast.  

I’ve been trying small tastings of yak bi-products.  Good news -no unpleasant consequences from the yogurt or butter.  The yak meat is off my list.

 While there was no electricity and or shower for a 2nd day I was OK with that. Plenty of hot boiled water and cold running water to make a sponge bath.  I was on my way to recovery.    

In the morning the fog that blanketed the valley progressively lifted.  What a beautiful sight 

Gorgeous detail on the temple at the nunnery.  Here you see one from a pair of elephants that flank the entrance

In the evening I had a semi-private meeting with a re-incarnated Lama who spoke excellent English.  It was an interesting experience.  

Here he is the following morning doing Kora/circumambulation of the temple at the nunnery.

Well we are back on the road to find the next great experience.

Carpe Diem and all that it may serve up,